Sunday, July 1, 2012

Everyman's Library vs. NCPB

Hardback Bibles are one of the best-kept secrets in the world of quality Bibles.  Most Bible aficionados are preoccupied with leather bindings - and one can see why: holding a fine leather Bible can be a sublime experience.  But a hardback edition provides the same text block for a fraction of the cost - in the case of the New Cambridge Paragraph Bible, the hardback edition with the Apocrypha is a third of the price of the leather edition; the hardback without the Apocrypha is just 29% of the cost of the same edition in leather.

Hardback editions are also much more convenient.  Unless your leather Bible came with a rigid slipcase, it must be stored horizontally.  If you own even a few leather Bibles you know how hard it is to easily grab just the one you want from the stack!  A high-quality hardback Bible, standing vertically on a book shelf, can be used easily - and therefore more often.

Below is a brief comparison of two hardback, personal-size, single-column, black-letter King James Bibles: a brace of volumes published by Everyman’s Library and the 2011 Revised edition of the NCPB.

Publishing a Bible in two volumes should allow real gains to be made in the two great drawbacks of most Bibles: thin paper and small type.  Unfortunately, the Everyman’s Library volumes of the Old and New Testament are only partially successful in overcoming these: the paper is more opaque than in the NCPB, but the print is smaller.

Finally, if you like to keep the dustjackets on your Bibles, you might consider getting the British editions of the Everyman’s Library instead of the American ones - I think the design is more stately.  Otherwise, the books themselves are the same, finished in a gorgeous and distinguished light taupe cloth cover.  The NCPB is cased in a hard, smooth marble-looking cover. 

Biblical text 
Everyman’s: Standard 1769; words that have no equivalent in the original text are printed in italics.
NCPB: 1611, but with modern spelling and punctuation; no words are in italics.

Apocrypha included? 
Everyman’s: No.
NCPB: Available with or without the Apocrypha.

Also on each page 
Everyman’s: Nothing else.
NCPB: Marginal notes in the inside margin.

In both editions
Epistle Dedicatory.
The Translators to the Reader.

Also included 
Everyman’s: In the Old Testament volume, a 37-page introduction by George Steiner; in the New Testament, a 44-page introduction by John Drury - and in both, a cloth ribbon! 
NCPB: A five-page Editor’s Introduction by David Norton.

Everyman’s: Each verse begins on a new line.
NCPB: Printed in paragraphs.

Everyman’s: Ehrhardt.
NCPB: Swift.

Font size
Slightly larger in the NCPB than in the Everyman’s.

Page size
Everyman’s: 5 x 7 1/16 inches.
NCPB: 5 3/4 x 8 1/4 inches.

Printed text (not including marginal notes)
Everyman’s: 3 1/2 x 6 1/16 inches.
NCPB: 3 3/4 x 7 1/8 inches.

Lines per page
Everyman’s: 42.
NCPB: 48.
There is slightly more space between the lines of the NCPB than in the Everyman’s.

Books begin...
Everyman’s: at the top of a page.
NCPB: at the top of a page (with one exception) and usually on a right-hand page.

Page size 
Everyman’s: 4 7/8 x 8 inches.
NCPB: 5 1/4 x 8 1/2 inches.

Printed text (not including marginal notes)
Everyman’s: 3 3/4 x 6 1/8 inches.
NCPB: 3 7/8 x 7 3/4 inches.

Paper opacity
In the Everyman’s volumes, the paper in the New Testament is slightly more opaque than in the Old Testament, but both are noticeably better than the NCPB.  (However, none of these three volumes is as opaque as the Penguin Classics edition of the NCPB).

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